Some years back the word awesome (historically reserved for truly jaw-dropping, heart-stopping phenomena) became a common word, used to describe almost everything under the sun.
A new dress suddenly wasn’t “attractive”; it was awesome. The new coffee shop in town? Not simply “cool,” but awesome. A favorite teacher? Not just “fun” or “interesting,” but awesome.
The Hebrew word translated as “awesome” is yare. This word carries so much more meaning than today’s watered-down version.
In the Bible, awesome is reserved for God and His works. And the result of the true meaning of awesome is fall-on-your-face speechlessness, hug-the-ground terror, and take-your-breath-away wonder. Is there a coffee shop in the world that can do any of that?
King David invoked the word yare when describing the overwhelming victory that God had given Israel.
Such power, such a cause for fear among even the fiercest enemies, such a relentless, unstoppable will—all of that is wrapped up in the word awesome.
In trying to describe God, David was forced to use the one and only Hebrew word that trumps every other adjective.
We get glimpses of awesome when we witness a volcano miles away that has just blown its top and is spewing massive plumes of lava into the air.
Or when we watch a video of a fifty-foot-high tidal wave crashing onto an island, devastating everything in its path. Or when we lie on our backs and look up at the seemingly endless night sky.
What’s behind all these awesome things? Our even-more-awesome God. He’s limitless, dangerously holy, and omnipotent. And yet He stoops to treat us with tenderness, care, and compassion.
He is kind to the very ones who ignore Him. After all, He drew near to love the same ones He knew would mock Him and nail Him to a tree.
God demonstrates love for us that truly inspires awe.
How would you describe the awesomeness of God?